Mayborn Museum, the popular educational spot located right off Baylor’s main campus, seeks to engage with a variety of audiences and visitors at this month’s Community Day which was held on Jan. 21.
Community Day is a time when visitors can explore all of Mayborn’s exhibits free of cost. This includes permanent exhibits like Hall of Natural History and Waco Mammoth National Monument, as well as Young at Art, a temporary exhibit displaying illustrations from award-winning children’s books.
Rebecca Nall, assistant director of exhibits, communication and visitor services at the Mayborn, is involved in the execution of this month’s Community Day and assists with the museum’s marketing. She appreciates Community Day as an opportunity for students and families to engage and learn about a variety of topics through the museum’s exhibits.
“Community Day is actually very new — last year on March 13 was our first Community Day,” Nall said. “This program was an evolution of Mayborn’s longstanding free Sunday program where admission was free the first Sunday of every month. Community Days have been fairly well-attended, and we thought MLK day was an ideal day to offer free admission with some people off work and school and looking for things to do together. There’s enough to do at this museum to spend an entire day, so we really want people to be able to engage and explore.”
Nall said that Community Days at Mayborn are offered around three times every year and are a part of the museum’s Reach Out program, which seeks to make Mayborn accessible to visitors of a variety of backgrounds and incomes.
“Mayborn Reach Out is a way for the museum to serve new and underserved audiences through different programs,” Nall said. “Community Days allow people to engage with the museum at no charge. We also offer passes that people can check out at Waco libraries at any time. We participate in the Museums for All program as well, which allows people to get a reduced admission to museums.”
The Mayborn is continuing their partnership with Junior League of Waco for this Community Day with a book reading open for all families to attend. The readings will be held at 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. in the Mayborn’s auditorium. Lauren Murray, a co-chair of the event, described Junior League of Waco as an organization of women promoting volunteerism and service through community involvement and leadership.
“The hope of the partnership between Mayborn Museum and Junior League of Waco is to really capitalize on a large audience visiting the museum on several days throughout the year,” Murray said. “These Community Days bring in families from the community and surrounding areas that may or may not have been able to come to the museum before. We feel like this really helps reach our mission of childhood education and development by reaching children through books. The Mayborn is so great for children to learn, explore and experience incredible exhibits, and Waco is so lucky to have such an amazing place to explore.”
Murray said that this is the third Community Day that Junior League of Waco has been a part of, and she appreciates the book reading as an interactive way for families to engage in learning at the museum.
“The benefit of this collaboration is that we’re really able to reach a broader audience of families through our surrounding communities,” Murray said. “We’re able to bring a story to life right before their eyes by being the characters in the book. Also, each family goes home with a copy of the book, and we do a craft with the children that encourages them to be excited about reading at home. We hope that we’re able to start or add to their own home library and encourage reading amongst families.”
Admission is free for all who attend Community Day, and Nall also hopes students take advantage of the Mayborn as a resource and spot to enjoy on other days of the year as well. Baylor students are always offered free admission to the museum by displaying a student ID card.
“We see so many Baylor students that come in as part of their classes, and we can serve as a good resource for information about this area through time and about science and history. We love playing this role for the university, and we want to continue expanding on this role and improving what we offer. We also want students to use us as a resource for fun — we hope students come when they have time off or want an afternoon out with friends,” Nall said.
Following Community Day, upcoming Mayborn events include the Very Eric Carle exhibit coming Jan. 26 that will feature an interactive learning experience through the author’s colorful children’s books, as well as this year’s Director’s Forum on Feb. 7 titled “True Crime Exposed.” The forum will feature lectures, panel discussions and interactive activities that incorporate forensic science and crime through history.